The tech industry is known for its high-paying salaries, with the average annual wage of U.S. IT workers more than double the average national wage. But where does a tech salary go the furthest?
As housing costs sky-rocket in traditional coastal hubs such as San Francisco and Washington, DC, a new wave of Tech Towns has popped up where high-paying IT jobs are growing at a rapid clip, but cost of living remains relatively low.
Although Silicon Valley remains the leader when it comes to median IT salaries, up-and-coming Tech Towns in the Midwest, Southeast and Rockies are proving to be some of the most attractive locations for tech pros looking to put down roots.
The recent Tech Towns report identifies cities across the U.S. where not only are tech jobs flourishing, but salaries stretch further due to low cost of living. Check out four cities below where IT pros get the best bang for their buck.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh has built up a strong reputation for innovation and entrepreneurial spirt over the past decade and is now home to more than 500 startups. This has caused demand for IT talent to surge in the region, with more than 25,600 tech jobs posted in Raleigh over the past year and median IT salaries topping $86,900.
What’s even more attractive for IT pros—the cost of living in Raleigh is 3.5 percent lower than the national average. Compare that to cities such as San Francisco, where the cost of living is a whopping 64.2 percent higher than the national average, or Boston, where it’s 34.6 percent higher.
Raleigh also offers plenty activities for tech pros when they’re not in the office, with the beach and mountains only a short drive away and more than 80 live music venues in the city.
Home to the US Space and Rocket Center, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, Huntsville has quietly emerged as one of the nation’s most tech-driven regional economies. According to a recent analysis from Bloomberg, Huntsville has the third most technical workforce in the country, with nearly 17 percent of the workforce in a STEM job.
And when it comes to cost of living, perhaps no other city in that nation offers tech pros a better bang for buck than Huntsville. IT pros in Huntsville earn a median salary of $91,998— edging out top Tech Towns like Austin, Dallas and Denver—and the cost of living is 3.3 percent lower than the national average.
In response to its booming tech sector, Huntsville’s city center has undergone a major renovation and revamped its downtown area with new shopping, entertainment, dining and housing options.
Atlanta’s startup-friendly policies have helped the city become one of the nation’s most attractive destinations for tech pros. A few years ago, the city started offering tax incentives for startups—an investment that has paid off with more than 76,400 tech jobs opening in Atlanta over the past year and median IT salaries topping $82,000.
Despite tech pros increasingly flocking to the city, the cost of living in Atlanta is still 3.9 percent lower than the national average and 68.1 percent lower than in San Francisco.
Atlanta is also a top target for IT pros who consider themselves travel junkies. It’s home to the busiest airport in the world, and 83 percent of U.S. cities are less than two hours away by plane.
Charlotte, North Carolina
The metro area of Charlotte, Concord and Gastonia has posted double-digit population growth over the last decade, and the city’s booming tech sector is a key contributor to this trend.
44,464 tech jobs were posted in Charlotte during the past year and that number is projected to grow 11 percent over the next five years as financial heavyweights like Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Ally Financial continue to hire IT workers at all levels.
Tech pros in Charlotte earn a median salary of more than $87,000, and despite the regions strong population growth, the cost of living is still 1.3 percent lower than national average. With more disposable income, tech pros can take advantage of all the great activities the area has to offer, including mild winters, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the US National Whitewater Center.
With their vibrant startup scenes and desirable quality of life, Raleigh, Huntsville, Atlanta and Charlotte have become some of the most attractive destinations for the future of the workforce. But the best news for IT pros is that there’s more opportunity and choice than ever to advance a career in tech—a total of 14 states and the District of Columbia are represented in the nation’s top 20 Tech Towns.
The 2018 Tech Town Index provides insight into the depth and breadth of America’s flourishing tech ecosystem and highlights the characteristics that make each of the nation’s Top 20 Tech Towns unique. Download the full report here to make educated decisions about where to live and work based on opportunity and opportunity costs.